It starts where they all seem to start, sitting on the couch with a beer in one hand and the computer in another.
The original plan for 2012 was to train through the winter, complete MMT, then do the VT100K as a fun run. But there I was sitting looking at the entrants list when I realize I hadn't done anything really stupid in weeks, so I upgraded. Truth be told, I DNF'd last year at VT100 and wanted to even the score. I couldn't help myself.
So, with just 9 weeks from MMT, I tried to recuperate, train and get myself ready. This was about 1/3 of the time I needed. Realizing, I would be going into the race at about 85%, this back of the packer decided to arm himself with a little bit more than an angry attitude. I usually do not like a pacer and consider the night hours to be walking and running slow and getting ready for a rebirth and final push at the last 25 miles. I did not believe I had this option this time. My first and only choice was fellow Trail Monster, The Val. When she accepted, I took this as a very good sign.
The thing about Vermont is what may work for other guys about this race does not work for me. I do not run well in the heat and the smooth hard gravel roads and level terrain seem to slam me hard toward the end. But still, I had to complete it.
Getting ready to start, I spend some awesome time with fellow TM's who will be running and crewing. I breifly wonder how many other teams will be taking home more buckles than this one.
4 a.m. off like a herd of turtles. The first miles go by pretty uneventful, it is still cool and all is well. I am chatting with some old friends and spend sometime running with them. It was nice to catch up and see they are still well.
I run into an old friend Scott and we spend sometime running and casually chatting. I remark to him, I can't believe my quads already feel trashed at 25 miles. He says to me, his too, but what are going to do, they aren't going to get any better forget about it. This is the perfect answer for me and one I would have given him.
We hit some pretty good climbs and it's warming up, but still not bad. Just before, my first time into 10 Bear I run into Annie and it lifts my spirits. I am doing as good as to be expected on time, feeling the usual tiredness of 50 miles, but still nothing much to bitch about.
Here comes the drama queen stuff. A couple of weeks ago I stressed out my neck muscles at work and retweeked them after the Scuffle. I rested all week and they felt not perfect but better. At 53 years old, you can't let every ache and pain you have stop you from doing what you love.
So who'd thought, after 50 miles into a 100 miler my neck would start to spaz out and progressively get to the point that I was standing in the middle of the road, unable to move, thinking that my plan of revenge at the VT100 was turning into the worst case scenario of a double DNF. I started taking some Advil, but still no relief. Another runner goes by me while I am standing in pain swearing out loud. He asked me if there was anything he could do. I asked if he had any Advil, he says no, but he says he has 2 tylenol soft caps that should act quickly. I swallow without water, as lifting my water bottle was way too painful. I started stumbiling down the road trying to will my body foward. I kept my left arm straight by my side and wrapped my other arm behind my back and applied a downward pressure to pull the neck muscles that were spazzing on that side down. This plus the drugs allowed me to stumble forward slowly. I swore some more and willed myself to stay angry. I was at war with myself.
Slowly I was able to cover a tenth or two of a mile between spasms. I still had to keep my arm straight and pull on it with the other one and fashion some sort of running walking, but the ache and spasms did not stop. After a long 20 miles I am coming down toward 10 Bear for the second time. I see Annie and start yelling for some Biofreeze which I slop on the back of my neck and shoulder. I grab a handful of caffiented Gu's as all these drugs were making me sleepy. Off to 10 Bear I go.
I tried to weigh in and get through the medical check as quickly as possible and without a spasm that would require answers. This was my war and they weren't invited. Not too many things went right for me the second 50 miles, but having Val as my pacer was my one smart move. I tell her her I am sorry I am late and will explain how my day is going once we get moving. I then proceed to unload my list of problems and tell her there is no way I am stopping and I hope she was up to it. Of course, she was. Before the race, she asked if there was anything special she needed to do as a pacer. I told her to just be The Val. Those that know her will understand this is a requirement that only she could fill. This would be the beginning of 30 miles, 11 hours of more than I would expect from any pacer. She played her part perfect in every way. She was The Val. So there we were slowly moving down the road setting short obtainable goals and working toward them. We figured out what time we waned to be at a certain aid station and what pace we would have to maintain. Keeping me on track, helping me at aid stations and great conversation were vital to me finishing. This was The Val. Around 89 miles we caught up to Xar and her runner who was was also having problems. I offer some Biofreeze and offer up Xar to apply it on her back and butt. I hope she can forgive me. After that we settle into the back of the packers death march. There really is an upside to this. You get to share time with many other runners who are fighting there own battles and you try to help them to hang in there as they are you. Around this time, old friend Scott catches up with his son as pacer. I am very happy to see he is doing well. We talk and then it is time for him to finish his race.
Val is being super supportive as only Val can to all the other runners who are fighting hard. I think that many of them have pacer jealousy, because I surely had the best deal going. We run into Ryan at Mile 95, who is also a spirit booster as only he can. Then before you know it, we are almost done.
Though I was in alot of pain still, I really enjoyed the last 5 milles, down the hill and to the finish. I am very happy to hear of other TM's success stories. The thought of doing another 100 miler right now is about appealing as sticking needles in my eyes. But then again, I am sitting on a couch with a beer in one hand and a computer in the other.